|Watching Josh Reddick grow up into a very smart Red Sox player||08.08.11 at 4:05 am ET|
Sunday night, Josh Reddick proved he has been paying attention to the small details.
When J.D. Drew went down with his shoulder injury, there were those who wondered if Reddick would be able to maintain his offensive pace while playing a dependable right field.
Sunday night, on the biggest stage Reddick has been on to date, the 24-year-old validated the trust the organization put in him by calling him up and slotting him in right field on a semi-regular basis.
It wasn’t just the fact that he put a great swing on a good Phil Hughes curveball, it was his preparation and planning leading up to his game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th that scored Darnell McDonald with the decisive run in Boston’s 3-2 win over the Yankees.
After Kevin Youkilis flied out to center to open the inning, David Ortiz came to the plate and doubled down the right field line, and Reddick was paying close attention.
“I got a first-pitch curveball over the plate and didn’t really miss it,” Reddick said of his opposite-field single off the base of the Green Monster that scored the winning run. “I watched the way he pitched Papi and was sitting on the pitches he started him off with and luckily he did, and I got a hold of it.
“I hit it really well, barreled it up really well, and it was fading toward the line so even with [Brett] Gardner’s speed, I felt like it was going to get there and we had D-Mac running with some fresh legs so I knew he was going to score no matter what.”
Keep in mind, Reddick was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts before his game-winning hit so he had to find other ways to contribute, and he certainly did. Russell Martin lined a base hit down the right field line with one out in the fifth. Reddick put himself in a perfect position for a bounce right to him. Read the rest of this entry »
After blowing the 14th save against the Red Sox in his certain Hall of Fame career, Mariano Rivera took full responsibility, admitting that his trademark cutter pitch to Marco Scutaro that yielded a leadoff double in the ninth was not where he wanted it. Scutaro lined Rivera’s 2-2 pitch high off the Monster in left to start the game-tying rally in the ninth, with the Yankees leading, 2-1.
“It wasn’t the pitch that I wanted it to be,” Rivera said. “It was a little bit down, should’ve been a little bit up. I can’t blame nothing but myself. I didn’t get it done. That’s that.”
Scutaro has a history of dramatics with the Yankees closer, hitting a three-run, game-winning walk-off homer against Rivera when Scutaro played for the A’s on April 15, 2007. Rivera insisted he wasn’t thinking about that when Scutaro led off the ninth on Sunday night.
“I don’t think about it like that,” Rivera said. “If I was thinking like that, I wouldn’t be doing this job. I was just going in there thinking of getting him out as soon as possible, just get him out.”
Rivera nearly got out of his own mess when Jacoby Ellsbury laid down a bunt for the first out, moving Scutaro to third. But Dustin Pedroia lined a ball just deep enough to left for Scutaro to score and tie the game. Josh Reddick gave Boston a 3-2 win the next inning when he singled home pinch-runner Darnell McDonald from second base.
While Rivera hasn’t been perfect this season – as Sunday was his fifth blown save in 34 chances, he still has been dominant. But even back in Rivera’s heyday, the Red Sox always seemed to have a knack for getting to him.
“That’s exciting,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said afterward. “Anytime you see Mo in the game, it’s not good news. We’re the one team, everyone once in a while, you kind make a chip [in his armor]. That was exciting. Scutaro with a huge hit, Jacoby gets a nice bunt down and Pedey with a good at-bat and we get to keep playing.”
Most famously, of course, there was Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series when Kevin Millar worked his walk and pinch-runner Dave Roberts just got under Derek Jeter’s tag, scoring on Bill Mueller’s hit. In the regular season, the Red Sox have tagged Rivera with 14 blown saves, six more than the next closest teams (Angels and Orioles).
But Rivera still managed to set some history Sunday, making his 1,023rd appearance, passing Jose Mesa and Lee Smith for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time games-pitched list.
|Red Sox-Yankees must mean another Jorge Posada drama||08.07.11 at 8:23 pm ET|
It’s Red Sox-Yankees so that means more fans yelling at one another, slugfests, nine-inning games that turn into four-hour marathons and of course, controversy about Jorge Posada and his decreasing role with the Yankees.
Prior to the series finale with the Red Sox, longtime Yankees catcher-turned-designated hitter seemed resigned to his fate with the team he helped lead to five World Series titles since 1996, and four as a starting catcher since 1998.
His latest dissatisfaction came when Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to use the newly-added Eric Chavez as the DH against Red Sox ace Josh Beckett. Chavez is finally healthy and ready to contribute and Posada is the odd man out.
So, you figured New York reporters would rush to Posada’s locker in the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway to get his response. He didn’t disappoint.
“It’s just a flesh wound,” Posada said Sunday afternoon when asked by reporters about riding the bench. “It’s very disappointing. You want to be out there,” Posada said. “But right now it’s about winning ballgames. He told me he wants to put the best lineup out there.”
The benching lies in the stats, as Posada is just 1-for-13 in his last 13 at-bats against the right-hander since homering off of him last year. Posada made headlines earlier in the year when he reportedly told the Yankees he had no interest in starting a game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium before his wife tweeted that his back was acting up and that “Jorge loves being a Yankee more than anything.”
Posada is batting just .230 this season with nine homers and 28 RBIs but all of his homers and all but three RBIs have come against right-handed pitching, making Sunday’s move noteworthy.
Some perspective here. When you bench a switch-hitter batting just .230 – including an abysmal .105 against lefties – no one really bats an eye. But this is no ordinary switch-hitter and obviously, no ordinary franchise.
Posada has been the Yankees primary catcher since 1998, arguably the greatest season club history as they won 114 games and the first of three straight World Series titles. He has been on five All-Star teams over his 16-year career. He is the only big league catcher to ever have hit .330 or better with 40 doubles, 20 home runs, and 90 RBIs in a single season.
Posada and Yogi Berra are the only Yankees catchers to hit 30 home runs in a season. Since 2000, Posada has had more runs batted in, home runs, and hits than any other catcher in baseball. Following off-season knee surgery, he was moved to designated hitter for the 2011 season by Girardi. Now it appears, even that role is diminishing.
But more than anything, Posada’s legacy is that of being one of the “Core Four” Yankees, along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.
That group won four World Series titles between 1998 and 2009 and that’s why any news of Posada still matters.
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: John Lackey vs. CC Sabathia||08.06.11 at 3:58 pm ET|
John Lackey was downright terrible in the first half of the 2011 season. Many Red Sox fans were calling for the right-handed hurler with a 6.84 ERA to be traded, moved to the bullpen or even released.
Since the All-Star break, however, Lackey (9-8, 6.23 ERA) is 3-0 with a 4.32 ERA in four starts. In that span, he has struck out 19 batters, while walking just a pair. Though his most recent start was the worst of the four, the veteran 32-year-old still managed 6 2/3 innings against the Indians and, despite allowing five runs on eight hits and back-to-back home runs, kept his team in the ballgame. The Red Sox eventually lost to Cleveland 9-6. He has silenced critics and re-established his place in the rotation.
On Saturday, Lackey will need to be on top of his game as the Red Sox take on the Yankees and their ace, CC Sabathia. Sabathia (16-5, 2.55 ERA) has been one of the best pitchers in the bigs all season, and is very consistent. He has allowed no more than two earned runs in each of his last eight starts, throwing at least seven innings in each outing. In that span, he has also averaged a whopping 9.75 strikeouts per game. However, he did match a season-high by allowing 10 hits to the White Sox in his last appearance.
Lackey has a bad history against current Yankees batters. New York batters enter the game with a collective .272 batting average, .348 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage against him. They have nine home runs and 35 extra-base-hits in a combined 393 at-bats. Additionally, four of them have been hit by Lackey, including shortstop Derek Jeter who has been beaned five times. Mark Teixeira has arguably the best numbers against the Red Sox starter. The first baseman is 22-for-66 in his career against Lackey with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Jorge Posada (.319), Curtis Granderson (.316), Brett Gardner (.333) and Andruw Jones (.333) also enter the game with batting averages above the .300 mark.
The Red Sox have not seen quite as much consistent success across the board. Four of the eight players with at least 20 plate appearances against Sabathia — Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury — are hitting under .230 against the 2007 Cy Young award winner. Designated hitter David Ortiz and third baseman Kevin Youkilis are tied for the team lead in home runs against the Yankees starter with two apiece. Youkilis also brings a .371 batting average, .488 on-base percentage, .714 slugging percentage and six extra-base hits in 35 career at-bats. Read the rest of this entry »
|Boone Logan outsmarts Adrian Gonzalez for one night||at 1:28 am ET|
It was the singular showdown of a classic Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park.
With the Red Sox leading, 2-0, they managed to get the bases loaded with two outs against Bartolo Colon. The Yankee starter was pulled by manager Joe Girardi in favor of Boone Logan, a long man in the Yankees pen who is one of the unsung heroes of a surprisingly dominant bullpen.
Into the batter’s box stepped the most dangerous and consistent hitter in the American League this season, Adrian Gonzalez. One would figure the advantage would be in favor of the batter. But Logan wasn’t concerned about the star quality of the batter just getting his team out of a big jam.
“A lefty is a lefty and that’s a big situation, no matter who’s at the plate. You can’t think of it like it’s Gonzalez is at the dish. If you do, that’s when you can probably get in trouble. Just stay confident and go to work.”
And work in this case required just three pitches. Fastball, slider and slider, with the final two coming on uncharacteristically ugly swings from Gonzalez.
“First pitch, coming in figuring he’s looking off-speed,” Logan said. “That’s typically what lefties do, coming in, especially with the bases loaded. I came in there, instead of throwing slider, I went fastball first pitch. He was definitely looking off-speed and then my next [pitch] a slider, which wasn’t one of my better ones, he didn’t look very good on it. I said, ‘If I throw this next slider in the dirt he’ll swing over it.’ And he did.”
“If I would have been looking slider, I wouldn’t have swung,” Gonzalez said. “Last time we faced him in New York I had a pretty similar situation, bases loaded, and I don’t know if he came in to face me or if he was already in the game, but I worked the count and I was able to get a walk. He usually attacks me with sinkers in, sliders away. So I wanted to see how he was going to attack me early. And he went with a four-seamer down in the zone – good pitch, just at the knees. And I told myself to look fastball, middle-away. And he threw a good slider to put me 0-2 and then I just tried to battle. He dropped down a little bit and I wasn’t able to pull back.
Logan said he was as proud of the relievers behind him as he was to strike out the American League’s best hitter on three pitches, giving his team the chance for the go-ahead rally in the next half-inning.
“It’s awesome when the whole bullpen goes in there and puts up zeros, especially against Boston, keeping a one-run lead from the sixth inning, on,” Logan said of the trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera after him. “It’s a great feeling. I’m proud of the guys.”
|How the Yankees finally got to Jon Lester||at 12:46 am ET|
Red Sox fans have seen this movie before.
An ace pitcher is cruising along against the vaunted Yankee lineup, like Jon Lester was on Friday night. The Sox left had allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings, throwing just 73 pitches in the process.
Then, boom. All of sudden, the Yankees start taking pitches, fouling off pitcher’s pitches and making every swing count. The Yankees still work the pitcher as well as any team in baseball and they proved it again Friday night, trailing 2-0.
Even the best pitchers the Red Sox ever had – like Pedro Martinez, circa 1999 – have fallen victim to this in the last 15 years that Derek Jeter has been a captain. And Jeter was at the middle of things – or more to the point – the start of things on Friday night.
Eduardo Nunez fell behind quickly two strikes to open the sixth, with the Lester and the Red Sox in command, 2-0. Then six pitches – including two foul balls – later, he was on base with a walk. Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson followed with an RBI single to left-center and it was 2-1.
“Just really lost command,” Lester said. “You have to tip your cap to them. They did a good job being patient that inning. I threw some pretty good pitches they laid off, whether it was a ball or strike, they stayed within themselves and it seemed like the first five innings, we dictated both sides of the plate and in the sixth inning, they did.”
Lester would throw his final 35 pitches of the night in that sixth inning as the Yankees rallied for three runs off Lester.
“The first thing was Nunez’s at-bat, the fact that he was able a 3-2 walk after fouling off some really tough pitches,” Granderson said. “I think he threw pretty anything and everything at him. Derek got his first hit of the ball game, I got my first hit. Nunez read it really well and was able to score.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘I understand the frustrations that Big Papi had’||08.05.11 at 2:42 pm ET|
Former Red Sox player and current MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon to talk about David Ortiz‘ outburst during Terry Francona‘s press conference Thursday, the upcoming Red Sox-Yankees series and the addition of Erik Bedard.
To hear the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
As a former player, Millar related to Ortiz’ frustrations. The Red Sox designated hitter thought he deserved an RBI that was initially awarded to him but then taken away Wednesday by the official scorer.
“It becomes frustrating at times when you’re a player and I understand the frustrations that Big Papi had,” Millar said. “That wasn’t a staged situation. You deal with this about five times a year. It’s usually over a hit. It’s usually over a judgment call. And some of the guys that make these calls don’t really have the instincts to be up there handling these calls at times. But I don’t know exactly what was taken away, obviously an RBI, or how it was done so it’s hard for me to comment on the exact play. But I know David’s upset, and probably deservedly so and he’s probably right.”
Though Millar sided with his former teammate on the issue, he didn’t necessarily agree with the way Ortiz handled the situation.
“I don’t understand if he was out the door or if he was trying to find Francona,” Millar said. “There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. Obviously that’s probably not the best way. You kind of want to keep that behind the scenes anyway and just say, hey, man to man, get in there and get your manager to call the official scorekeeper, or your hitting coach, [Dave] Magadan, or somebody call up there and argue for you. But it’s hard when you have to argue for yourself because now it makes you look like, well, what we’re talking about today.”
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